If you are new to business, you will hear or read the word “networking” as the solution to your problem of trying to find clients.

What does networking mean?
According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, networking is defined as

“the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions, specifically : the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.”

Networking often conjures images of business suits, bodies in circles, some in a corner and maybe one or two watching everyone else and probably making more trips to the food table than anyone else just to keep themselves busy. Then there’s the circle where one person is talking and everyone else starts laughing when the talker laughs or making a face of disgust when the talker creates facial expressions of such.

Have you been to one of those?
Where you go with a bunch of business cards ready to hand them out to whoever crosses paths with you?

Next time you forget those cards, don’t worry. You can still make an impression and network successfully without handing those out. If you are an introvert, I understand that networking can be intimidating. The thought of meeting people you don’t know and finding something to talk about is enough to cause a sweat and a nervous breakdown.

The exchange of information among individuals …for the cultivation of productive relationships is fortunately can be achieved mostly by you listening rather than talking.

Communication does not necessarily mean you have to talk. It also means listening and acknowledging who you are listening to by nodding or simply repeating back what they have just told you. This sends the message to your talker that you are interested in them and what they are saying. Without much of a word from you, your talker will see you as someone they can start to develop a relationship with. At the end of their story, you will get an opportunity when they start asking you about what you do. How you respond is another blog post. In the meantime, practice this next time you attend a networking event and enjoy the new found friends you will make without having to say much.

Share your networking stories below and any comments or questions you may have.

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Vanessa Leota is a Business Communications specialist with an interest in interpersonal and management communication.

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